Round 5 of the GUINNESS PRO14 brought the first set of derby matches this season and, as ever, we were not left disappointed. Munster sent out a statement of intent with a record win over Ulster, while Leinster edged out a determined Connacht – and the two winners meet this Saturday at the Aviva Stadium in one of the most highly-anticipated matches of the campaign.
Round 6 has it all. Fierce rivalries across the Championship, fascinating match-ups and the guarantee of tries to end the first section of GUINNESS PRO14 matches before the teams prepare for European competition next week.
We may be just a few weeks into the 2018/19 season but every team has hopes on reaching the PRO14 final on Saturday, May 25 which will take place at Celtic Park in Glasgow – fans can book their places now by clicking here to get their hands on the best seats available.
The action begins on Friday night with a triple header, the first game of which sees Edinburgh welcome the Toyota Cheetahs to BT Murrayfield. Having won just one of their first four fixtures, Richard Cockerill’s side got back on track with a 31-30 victory over Benetton Rugby after holding off a second half fightback from the Italians.
Simon Hickey’s accuracy from the tee ultimately proved vital, kicking a penalty and all four conversions, while Benetton missed four conversions. Meanwhile, the Cheetahs fell agonisingly short of their first win against Cardiff Blues in an equally tight contest, after Sibahle Maxwane and Benhard Janse van Rensburg had put them ahead. The two sides have only met once before, with the Cheetahs defeating Edinburgh 33-13 in Bloemfontein last season.
The second match on Friday sees Zebre clash with Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun Stadium. The hosts have only suffered one defeat in the first five rounds, bouncing back from their shock defeat against the Isuzu Southern Kings to dispatch the Dragons 29-13 last time out. Oli Kebble was the star man for the Warriors, who have won their last 25 matches against Italian opponents.
Zebre have just one win from their last four matches, slipping to a 22-8 defeat to the Ospreys in round 5, and the odds are stacked against them on Friday. Dave Rennie’s outfit have won all 12 previous encounters between the two sides, including two dominant victories last season (the Warriors winning 68-7 at home and 40-20 at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi).
An action-packed Friday night schedule will also see Connacht travel to Kingspan Stadium to face Ulster in search of their first victory in Belfast since November 1960. Despite a promising start to the season, which included three wins and a draw, the hosts were subjected to their biggest ever defeat in Limerick last weekend. Dan McFarland’s troops will be desperate to get back to winning ways against a Connacht side that pushed defending champions Leinster all the way in round 5.
A high penalty count cost them dearly, though, and their record away from home in interprovincial matches does not inspire confidence, with just one win away from Galway in the Championship since April 2017.
Saturday’s opening fixture sees the Scarlets welcome the Ospreys to Parc y Scarlets in a battle between two in-form teams. Last season’s beaten finalists, the Scarlets have won three of five games this term to sit second in Conference B – with their defeats coming away to Connacht and Ulster.
The Ospreys’ only reversal this season was a 49-13 loss to Munster in round 3 and they head to Llanelli off the back of 22-8 triumph over Zebre in Parma. The Scarlets have a formidable record as hosts – being unbeaten in their last 24 PRO14 home games – and have also won their last nine fixtures against fellow Welsh regions in the Championship.
The other Welsh derby on Saturday sees the Dragons on the hunt for a third win in six games as they play host to Cardiff Blues at Rodney Parade. Cardiff have the same two wins-three losses record as their hosts, but the five bonus points tallied up in their opening fixtures mean they lie fourth in Conference A on 13 points. The Blues boast the joint-most turnovers in the PRO14 this season, with Ellis Jenkins (8) in their ranks, while no one has made more metres than Dragons flyer Jordan Williams (425).
After three consecutive defeats by two points or less to open the season, Cardiff are now protecting a two-game winning streak, while the Dragons are seeking to finally end a 21-match losing run against fellow Welsh regions in the Championship.
There is an intriguing Saturday evening clash between Benetton Rugby and the Southern Kings at Stadio di Monigo. The Italian side are looking to bounce back from a gut-wrenching loss to Edinburgh last time out where Luca Sperandio’s spectacular hat-trick was not enough to stop them falling to a one-point defeat.
They have slipped to three straight losses in the PRO14 – their worst run since last December – but have won all three previous games against South African opponents, while the Kings are still seeking their first ever away victory in the competition.
In the pick of the round, Conference B leaders Leinster welcome arch rivals Munster to the Aviva Stadium on Saturday evening, looking to make it five wins from six this season. Both teams are coming off interpro wins in round 5, although they could not have been more contrasting, as Leinster edged a low-scoring affair with Connacht 20-3 while Munster ran in a record nine tries to overwhelm Ulster 64-7.
Leinster have won their last nine matches at Irish Rugby HQ in all tournaments, since Toulon beat them there in the Champions Cup in December 2015, while Munster have only won once in the last seven fixtures between the sides.
GUINNESS PRO14 – ROUND 6 FIXTURES:
Friday, October 5 –
Edinburgh (5th, Con B) v Toyota Cheetahs (7th, Con A), BT Murrayfield, 7.35pm (live Premier Sports/Free Sports/SuperSport 1/deferred eir Sport 2)
Glasgow Warriors (1st, Con A) v Zebre (6th, Con A), Scotstoun Stadium, 7.35pm (live Premier Sports 2/DAZN/deferred eir Sport 1)
ULSTER (3rd, Con B) v CONNACHT (5th, Con A), Kingspan Stadium, 7.35pm (live Premier Sports 1/eir Sport 1/deferred TG4)
Saturday, October 6 –
Scarlets (2nd, Con B) v Ospreys (2nd, Con A), Parc y Scarlets, 3pm (live Premier Sports 1/eir Sport 1)
Dragons (6th, Con B) v Cardiff Blues (4th, Con A), Rodney Parade, 5.15pm (live Premier Sports 1/eir Sport 2)
LEINSTER (1st, Con B) v MUNSTER (3rd, Con A), Aviva Stadium, 6pm (live eir Sport 1/Premier Sports 2/deferred TG4)
Benetton Rugby (4th, Con B) v Isuzu Southern Kings (7th, Con B), Stadio di Monigo, 8pm local time (live DAZN/Free Sports/SuperSport 1/deferred eir Sport 1)
TOP PERFORMERS IN GUINNESS PRO14 AFTER ROUND 5 (Powered by Opta Statistics):
TOP POINTS SCORERS –
Sam Davies (Ospreys) 57
Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues) 49
Jack Carty (Connacht) 49
John Cooney (Ulster) 44
Tommaso Allan (Benetton Rugby) 42
TOP TRY SCORERS –
Niyi Adeolokun (Connacht) 3
Bjorn Basson (Isuzu Southern Kings) 3
Gareth Davies (Scarlets) 3
Jamison Gibson-Park (Leinster) 3
Rey Lee-Lo (Cardiff Blues) 3
Rhys Marshall (Munster) 3
Sibahle Maxwane (Toyota Cheetahs) 3
George North (Ospreys) 3
Tommy O’Donnell (Munster) 3
Luca Sperandio (Benetton Rugby) 3
Braam Steyn (Benetton Rugby) 3
Justin Tipuric (Ospreys) 3
DTH van der Merwe (Glasgow Warriors) 3
METRES GAINED –
Jordan Williams (Dragons) 425
Craig Gilroy (Ulster) 381
Malcolm Jaer (Toyota Cheetahs) 363
Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh) 324
Darren Sweetnam (Munster) 314
MOST CARRIES –
Nico Lee (Toyota Cheetahs) 62
Bill Mata (Edinburgh) 61
Marcell Coetzee (Ulster) 60
Stuart McCloskey (Ulster) 58
Tiernan O’Halloran (Connacht) 58
CLEAN BREAKS –
Darren Sweetnam (Munster) 9
Andrew Conway (Munster) 9
Jordan Larmour (Leinster) 9
Darren Cave (Ulster) 9
Malcolm Jaer (Toyota Cheetahs) 9
DEFENDERS BEATEN –
Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors) 22
Jordan Larmour (Leinster) 20
Craig Gilroy (Ulster) 19
DTH van der Merwe (Glasgow Warriors) 19
George North (Ospreys) 18
MOST OFFLOADS –
Mattia Bellini (Zebre) 10
Tom Farrell (Connacht) 10
Stuart McCloskey (Ulster) 10
Marcell Coetzee (Ulster) 8
Nico Lee (Toyota Cheetahs) 7
MOST TACKLES –
Bobby de Wee (Isuzu Southern Kings) 77
Nico Lee (Toyota Cheetahs) 71
Sebastian Negri (Benetton Rugby) 65
Andisa Ntsila (Isuzu Southern Kings) 61
Aaron Wainwright (Dragons) 60
TURNOVERS WON –
Owen Watkin (Ospreys) 8
Ellis Jenkins (Cardiff Blues) 8
Darren Cave (Ulster) 6
Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys) 6
Peter O’Mahony (Munster) 6
LINEOUT STEALS –
Cory Hill (Dragons) 4
Junior Sipato Pokomela (Toyota Cheetahs) 4
Tadhg Beirne (Munster) 4
Scott Fardy (Leinster) 3
Braam Steyn (Benetton Rugby) 3
George Biagi (Zebre) 3
Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys) 3
Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors) 3
For more statistics, please visit www.pro14rugby.org/statistics/powered-by-opta/